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CB 7 gives input on “Zone Green” initiative

As the city continues its efforts to make New York City buildings and neighborhoods more environmentally friendly — through the creation of the Green Codes Task Force and other “green initiatives” such as more street trees, alternatives to cars, access to fresh food and more open space — local leaders have begun to provide feedback.

At its February meeting, Community Board 7 voted to ask the Department of City Planning (DCP) to amend its “Zone Green Text Amendments” proposal – an initiative that focuses on changing zoning to make it easier to build and renovate buildings with energy-efficient materials such as insulated exterior walls, wind turbines, solar panels and rooftop greenhouses.

The list of concerns drawn up by CB 7’s Land Use Committee emphasize the need to:

  • Restrict the placement of external air conditioning units to the rear or side yards of homes, as opposed to the front yard, as currently proposed by DCP;
  • Keep the Brooklyn Borough Board resolution calling for sun control devices and awnings to be permitted in rear yards more than 20 feet deep and in front yards at least five feet deep –to allow for snow to fall from the awning a safe distance from pedestrians;
  • Continue to restrict the maximum height of bulkheads – water, drainage, power or other storage equipment on a roof – to 25 feet, instead of changing it to allow for 40-foot tall structures;
  • Preserve Sunset Park and Battle Hill’s (in Green-Wood Cemetery) “exceptional and historic views:”
  • Consider the neighborhood’s “geographic location and relationship to the waterfront” as well as “proposals set forth in our 197-a plan regarding future planning and development of our district’s manufacturing, commercial and recreation potential;” and
  • Restrict the height of the permitting planting that would be allowed on green roofs within CB 7.

As CB 7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer noted, the board’s list of recommendations overlaps in the key areas of historic views and land access and use.

The Historic Districts Council also issued a statement at the end of February stressing to the DCP the importance of reusing older buildings, not destroying the character of unprotected buildings and neighborhoods, requiring quantifiable energy savings before moving forward with certain additions, ensuring protection of landmarked buildings, and, of course, paying attention to resident input on the effect of changes to their neighborhood’s character.

In addition to their recommendations, CB 7 also resolved to request additional funding for the Buildings Department so that it can enforce the changes that will occur when the Zone Green Text Amendments pass.

Upon receipt of the recommendations, DCP has 90 days to review them. Then the City Council will have 180 days to review the proposed changes. A final decision will come towards the end of 2012.

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